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Diary - April 2012
Monday 30 April
Miss Guest Diary writes: So that's it then: another season over. I missed the game on Saturday through illness but I suspect my afternoon of lying on the sofa watching DVDs (The Bourne Trilogy, in case you're interested) was more enjoyable than the cold, windy and pointless affair at Blundell Park. It sounds like Town were, once again, undone by a well-coached team who came to defend.
In his interview with the Telegraph, Shorty claimed that this season's 11th place finish is an improvement on last year's because "we've had more wins and scored more goals". Hmm, that sounds to me like a man clutching at a very small straw. He also forgot to add that Town lost exactly the same number of games this season as last. Why is it, I wonder, that Shouty mostly only talks to the press after a good result, leaving Shorty to explain away the bad ones?
Around this time of the year we are usually looking with anticipation at who is being relegated from the division above and who is coming up from below. This season the latter holds a particular dread: the prospect that Gainsborough Trinity might be promoted into the Conference Premier. I have nothing against them personally. But I'm sure many fans must share the feeling that Gainsborough, like Brigg, is somewhere you go for a jolly pre-season friendly, not a competitive match. For me, going to Northolme during the season would somehow make Town's current status as a non-League club more horribly real.
Long-time readers of my ramblings will be aware that I refused to buy a season ticket last summer but my partner bought one anyway. I ended up going to most of the home games on a pay-per-view basis of ฃ10 a game with cashback for sub-par performances. I haven't kept a note of what I actually paid but, given that Town's record was 11 wins, seven losses and four draws, with goals scored 51 and goals conceded 28, what do you think those games were worth?
Whether I buy my own season ticket for next season might depend on who we have playing for us. My current favourite, Frankie Artus, is one of seven players still at the club who are out of contract this summer. The others are James McKeown, Andi Thanoj, Charlie I'Anson, Kiernan Hughes-Mason, Anthony Church and Gary Silk. Frankie has told the Telegraph that he hopes to stay but the very fact that he's only hoping for, not expecting, "positive news" doesn't bode well.
To lighten the mood before signing off, I am pleased to report that Southport fan Colin Aindow successfully completed his 163-mile charity run from Haig Avenue to Blundell Park and received a warm reception from both sets of fans before Saturday's game. Let's hope Town can show similar determination next season. Cue some footballing clich้ about marathons and sprints...
Friday 27 April
Mardy Diary writes: So three out and one sort of in already, eh? We'll try to keep track of things here, as usual, but forgive us if we have the odd day off. We sometimes like to sleep.
The departure of Coulson is no big surprise of course it was fairly inevitable once contract talks stalled. I'll be sad to see him go he's been a good, skillful player for us and always gave his best. He also strikes me as a throughly likeable chap off the pitch too, which in these days of John Terry and his ilk is quite a heartening thing.
Garner going seems strange too, given than he won his place back in the side and seemed to be playing pretty well. Scott explains in the Telegraph today that the decision was mainly made due to the improvement in form of Pearson and the fact Garner was out of contract. I expect it's also to do with the wage differential between Garner (signed by Woods) and Pearson. Similarly, Rob Duffy has contributed this season but a combination of his contract coming to an end and the fact he was probably on a higher wage than most means he won't be retained.
I find it hard to argue with the decisions on that level. I've harped on long enough about us living within our means and not relying on the benign loans of Fenty, and this at least appears a step in that direction. We will be lucky to replace Coulson for someone of equal calibre on a lower wage, but perhaps we just can't afford a player like him? It seems to me that Soares was brought in last season as a back-up in case Coulson wasn't retained, and he may well turn out to be a good substitute for him. He certainly has ability and has a proven record at this level. It's a gamble, but one that will cost less than previous risks if it doesn't work out.
And that seems the route we're now taking: take a chance on those who have shown ability at this level and below, rather than pay more for players that have played at a higher level. It's worked with Hearn, and shows signs of working with Pearson. Church less so, but some players adapt quicker than others.
What will be interesting to see is if there is any reduction in squad size, or rather a reduction in players used throughout the season. Shorty and Shouty came in with a remit of having a reduced squad compared to the previous season. However, the number of players they actually used last season (excluding those who made fewer than five appearances) was the same as the previous season: 28.
I've long been a believer that having a settled squad is the key to a successful team: sticking with players rather than chopping and changing every match. The good run we had this season was largely down to a settled team and if you look back over the last ten seasons, results certainly support this theory.
If we say our two moments of 'success' in the last ten years were the play-off final and the Paint Pot cup final (yes, I know) then it's also interesting to note that we used only 24 players under Buckley and 23 under Slade (Slade used only 21 the season before that). Contrast this with the worse total of 32 that happened in 2003-04 and 2009-10 and what happened in those seasons?
Of course there's a bit of a chicken and egg thing here: if a team is doing well, why change it? But Slade and Buckley both knew what they were doing. Slade built steadily in his first season and added small numbers the next. Buckley took the players he was given, reduced the numbers and then tried to do something with the ones who remained (get to a cup final and finish lower mid-table doesn't look so bad now, does it?).
With this in mind it's hoped that Scott and Hurst have the same thing in mind. Certainly there is the requirement to reduce our dependency on Fenty and start to live within our means. But alongside this we need to start sticking with players and letting the team develop together. For a moment this season it looked like the managers had twigged and we had a fantastic run but as soon as it began to falter, the swapping of players and systems came back in and the results tailed off.
Shouty says that tomorrow the team will largely be the same but they'll be looking to tinker with the tactics. I just want them to decide on a tactic that suits the players they have and stick to it.
Thursday 26 April
Hello playmates 'tis your most Deviant of diaries in fine fettle as the dribbling drabness of drought drenchings and the stench of fetid Fentyisms crawl towards the seasonal sunset. And now the end is near, we've reached the final curtain for so few of the many, or perhaps many of the few. Who needs England internationals, eh? Michael Coulson? Last month he was the toast of the Town but now Town toast.
At least Town will have enough employees to griddle a burger over the summer. Our Impish county cousins are a-frettin' and a-frothin' again with only five footballing types under contract. They may lose their stars, apparently; it's all relative in Lincolnshire, especially down in the fens, of course.
It's all relative in the golden triangle of Nottingham, Derby and Sheffield too. Oh those cheeky chads from Mansfield: it's the old Grimbsy Town routine. The fan fricassees at fun-filled Alfreton have finally reached the courtroom with Dim Derbyites and nutty Notts Forest fans to the fore. Ruddy hooligans. As contrite Kelvin (20) says: "I just need to grow up."
For the masochists and misanthropes among you, Snippy and Drippy are waiting online right now for your short and shouty questions. Who wants to be Tondeurised today? Do you think that? Well, don't ask then. Go to the back of the chatroom and do not pass 'go'.
And finally Cyril, it's not football, but unlike Michael Coulson you need to leave on a smile.
Woah, hold on a tick, there they go! Hot off the cold press: Mr Fluffy is no more and Garner has joined Coulson in the bin.
Wednesday 25 April
For once the fans had a choice, but it was still pretty clear that Liam Hearn would bag the supporters' Player of the Year award. And he did just that, collecting the biggest trophy of them all at the club's top corporate facility, McMenemy's, last night. Your West Yorkshire Diary notes, however, that Mr Hearn does not appear to be wearing a tie for the occasion in this photo. Scoring 29 goals and being popular with the guests may have helped the venue's manager to overlook the absent-tie-ism on this occasion, I guess, but one can only imagine the dilemma the door staff would have had if Hearn had turned up wearing Converse trainers and skinny jeans.
Congratulations to Conor Townsend too, for earning the supporters' Young Player of the Year award. His arrival coincided with Town's remarkable run of form from late October onwards. His professionalism and composure on the pitch have made it hard for a lot of us to comprehend that he wasn't even born when Mr Blobby achieved a number one hit. And he's of a generation that will never know what it was like to be cut off the internet when someone called the house phone. For football wisdom way beyond his years, we salute you, young Conor. We just hope you're not made to rot with the King$ston Communication$ FC stiffs next season.
As is traditional for the annual awards ceremony, there were plenty of trophies to hand out. The superb new official website has published a useful list of who won what. Town's ever-present goalkeeper James McKeown collected a few, and late flourisher Shaun Pearson won a couple. Well done to all those who contributed to an admirable season, by Town's standards, and we hope to see most of you at the club next season.
One player who looks almost certain to not be at Blundell Park next season is Goal of the Season winner Michael Coulson. After scoring ten goals, accruing a shed load of assists and earning his first England C cap, the managers have decided that he's not worth the money he's on and offered reduced terms, apparently. Coulson has turned down the offer. The managers must be confident that they can find a player who can contribute just as much for less money, then. Coulson is currently the only player in the squad to have amassed more than 100 appearances for the Mariners, and while this shouldn't form the basis of whether he stays or not, it's still the mark of a man who has stayed with the team and given his all through some pretty tough times. Wherever you go next, Michael, we wish you well.
Tuesday 24 April
Town's superb new official website has, like much of the club's other digital communications, improved markedly over the past few months. It would be remiss of your original/regular Diary, though, not to point out the headline "Chelsea 30/1 To Snatch A Win In Barca" of an item on the SNOS today. Why? Because the item is about Chelsea being 8/1 to snatch a win "In Barca".
The website, like the team, is a work in progress. Both have improved; both, it might be anticipated, will continue to do so if the staff put in place to improve them are left alone to get on with their jobs. What if Town only improve by one or two league places next season, though? The great run earlier this term had many a supporter concluding that if we missed out on the play-offs, then 2012-13 would be our year. But the Mariners have now won only three of their last 14 games. If a fourth season in the Conference looms a year from now, will there be pressure to resume the vicious circle of hiring and firing that did so much to bring our club to this stricken state?
In the least surprising news of 2012 so far, anyway, Michael Coulson is off. Who are next season's Fleetwood, by the way?
Monday 23 April
Miss Guest Diary writes: Some of my fellow diarists have recently mentioned the need to construct a diary out of nothing. This morning, I know how they feel. What can I say about the penultimate game of a season going nowhere which ended in a 0-0 draw: absolutely nothing. I fear that, over the coming close season, readers are going to be learning a lot about what's growing in my garden and which new cake recipes I have tried.
So what does Shouty have to say about Saturday's game? He thought that Town had the better chances but that a draw was a fair result. He then goes on to say that "you can't expect to go to places like Telford and just win convincingly". Well, I'd like to let him in on a little secret that's exactly what we Town fans do expect. And, looking at Telford's results, it is exactly what Fleetwood, Wrexham, Luton, Gateshead and Southport managed. Could this explain why they are all above Town in the table?
Thoughts are already turning to next season, with Shouty making cryptic remarks about "decisions to make" and "trying something different" as a reason for leaving Michael Coulson, Rob Duffy and Scott Garner out of Saturday's squad. In the absence of real information we, as fans, love to speculate about what the inclusion or exclusion of players from the squad might mean. Too Good to Go Down has penned an interesting article on this topic, in particular as it relates to the Michael Coulson contract rumours.
The SNOS is touting a free-to-view Goal of the Season montage, with the result to be announced at Tuesday's player of the year ceremony. But, as I didn't succeed in getting the clip to play and there doesn't seem to be any opportunity for fans to vote for their choice, it was all a bit of a damp squib. Much like the last month of the season has been, really.
But finally, something that does have a point. Colin Aindow, a Southport fan, will be leaving his team's ground on Wednesday morning to run the 163 miles to Blundell Park in time for Saturday's game, calling in at 17 football clubs on the way. He is raising money both for the Southport supporters' trust and Help for Heroes. Visit Colin's blog to read about his preparations.
Friday 20 April
Mardy Diary writes: Hastily I have unpacked my bags having been alerted to the fact that the season is not yet over in spite of the fact that there is nothing to play for. Oh for the heady days of yonder when we spent the last weeks of the season working out how many goals we needed to score against some play-off contenders or other in order to avoid the impending relegation. Not sure I can quite get used to this games left/season over combination.
That said, Rob Scott reckons that he still wants the team to go out on a high and says they'll still be picking a strong team for the trip to Telford. He then hints that perhaps some fringe players will get a chance to stake a claim a chance for Makofo to come on, score a hat-trick and secure a three-year extension to his current deal? No. Probably not.
Scott also suggests that Town's poor run of form started with the play-poorly-but-still-win performance against Telford at the end of January. It's certainly true that form dipped a fair bit after that although the team did notch another couple of wins in early February. It's hard to know what changed, really: there were a couple of injuries to players who had been part of the revival notably Artus but one player can't make that much of a difference.
Perhaps it was just the better quality of the opposition, and with Town facing teams above them in the table they were shown that they aren't quite there yet, despite the high-scoring games against teams at the other end of the table. Some people claimed tiredness or fatigue from too many games but I don't buy that. Firstly, we're a professional full-time club that put emphasis on fitness at the beginning of the season. Secondly, it was only a week or so before that when players/managers were saying that when you're winning you just want to keep playing. I also apply the rule of Paul Groves in this situation: have you played 68 games this season? No? Then how can you possibly be tired?
Of course it would have been a factor of all of these things and more. Not forgetting that it also coincided with the goodwill the club had built with the winning run being thoughtlessly pissed down the drain by non-chairman Fenty and his blackmailing of the trust. Just saying, like...
Thursday 19 April
Your original/regular Diary would like to begin by wishing you a happy Wayne Burnett Day. Fourteen years is both a long time and feels like yesterday.
Early in 2011 Grimsby Town reached an agreement to terminate the contract of an experienced goalkeeper with a handful of caps for a celtic nation who had latterly struggled to hold down a place in the GTFC side. Good riddance, muttered supporters. This week Town have done the same, but the fans seem a little more charitably disposed towards Kenny Arthur now than they were towards Nick Colgan then. A player probably still of Football League standard, Arthur was roundly criticised by many fans last season. Today he's being warmly wished all the best and thanked for his contribution to the club.
As is very often the case with Town supporters, then, absence from the team has made the heart grow fonder. In the mid-2000s, of course, the likes of Graham Hockless and Thomas Pinault became cult heroes simply by not playing. Latterly, many GTFC fans (your original/regular Diary included) have gazed wistfully across the Irish Sea dreaming of what a fully fit and firing Danny North might do for the Mariners in the Conference, having forgotten entirely the player's erstwhile 'lifestyle' issues. Perhaps a spell out of the team was all that was needed to rehabilitate players like Colgan in the affections of supporters, not to mention Peter Sweeney, Peter Beagrie and Scott McGarvey before him.
If West Yorkshire Diary was correct yesterday to state that the headline "Youths in action" might "attract the attention of the internet police", then heaven only knows what alarm bells will be ringing now. "Youths beaten" is today's offering from Town's superb new official website, the one-time Myspace Mariners having been despatched 2-0 by their counterparts from ovver the Umber in Ull. Dunno how the youth team feel about it, but I for one am delighted that they still play teams like King$ton Communication$ FC and Chesterfield. It means I can look at the youth fixture list once or twice a season, squint a bit, and pretend Town are still a proper football club.
The Grimsby Telewag today puts forward one of those statistical pieces that it runs now and again when there's not an awful lot of news to report. The research looks sound enough, and it's sure to be interesting to readers of a numerical bent. If you can't be arsed, the gist is basically: Town have scored more goals this season than in all those other seasons when they scored fewer goals.
Last up today, Matt Pakes has emailed to raise another statistical spectre. "I know we shouldn't be counting chickens and all that," he says, "but when was the last time we actually finished a season with the same managers we started with? (I don't count Slade, as he left about 85 minutes into the Cardiff match)." It's a fine question, Matt, and I hope Diary readers will email firstname.lastname@example.org with some responses. "Still, there's a couple of games left yet for the old Fenty-Trigger-Finger to come into play!" adds Matt. Yes, counting chickens and all that. After all, Deadly John didn't Topcon the trust out of all those shares for nothing.
Wednesday 18 April
So then, folks that's it. York won at Cambridge last night, so finally we can stop blabbering on about the play-offs.
"Youths in action" might be the sort of headline that attracts the attention of the internet police, but what it's really referring to in this instance is the youth team's final home match of the season against Hull City at Cheapside this afternoon. Kick-off is at 2pm. Light snacks including salt and vinegar crisps for the fully recovered mouth of Dayle Southwell and drinks will be available. I'd tell you what our youth team has achieved this season if I could find any information on them, but I suspect it's chuff all.
If you're making the trip to Telford this weekend then you might find this information useful from the superb new official website, which has remained superb and new for about five years now.
As predicted by yesterday's Middle-Aged Diary, there's sod all to report today, save for the news that Andrew Wright has returned to Scunthorpe just before his month's loan was about to expire anyway. All of which means that your West Yorkshire Diary is going to have to resort to doing that thing that teachers say you should never do in essays and waffle. Pad it out. Do what you have to do to up the word count. Sneak in the word 'that' a lot, unnecessarily, for example. Talk drivel. Verbal diarrhoea, as my mum prefers to call it. And so on you get the idea. I'm already very proud of the length of this diary (although I doubt it's a feeling you share).
"Don't let the absence of news stop you from writing an informed and mildly entertaining diary for Cod Almighty," I said to myself just now. I'd love to write an anecdotal piece about the inevitability of treading in dog mess that my grandad used to face when walking down Harrington Street on the way home from every home match, but there isn't a lot else to say about that because it is what it is a man treading in dog shit. I think it was the same dog each time. I like to think it was the dog's way of tormenting my grandad.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, when you're quite literally talking about dog shit you know that you've run out of steam. So it's over to tomorrow's diarist to do what all good strikers do in the box and create something out of nothing. Cheerio!
Tuesday 17 April
Should York win tonight, tomorrow's Diary will finally be able to confirm that Town will not be in the play-offs. Yes, it has come to this. With Ian Miller arguing that winning our next two matches will provide a springboard (but no actual points) for the 2012-13 season and the Telegraph reduced to running the four-day-old news of the Mariners Trust's evening with Alan Buckley, your Middle-Aged Diary is so short of copy he is reduced to nicking it from tomorrow's incumbent.
Too early to look forward, so let's have a quick look back. And time for me to air my pet theory that while relegation 'six-pointers' do usually matter (and usually end in draws), it is actually consistency that wins promotion. Leave aside our defeats to Fleetwood, York and Kidderminster; since February, it is the points dropped against teams that our relative league positions suggest we ought to beat (Tamworth twice, Braintree and Darlington) that have seen the season end in bathos. It is possible to be cynical about our long winning streak through the middle of the season, and it's true that we didn't beat many teams we wouldn't have expected to beat. But it is winning the games that ought to be won that will get a team promoted.
Incidentally, the Telegraph illustrates its report of the trust evening with a picture of the Old Master bearing a distinct resemblance to Troels Hartmann, the mayoral candidate from the first series of The Killing. Just imagine what Grimsby (the town, not the football team) would be like if Alan Buckley were mayor. Send your ideas to email@example.com; tomorrow's diarist may well be grateful for them.
Monday 16 April
Miss Guest Diary writes: Just when you thought no-one could possibly hold out any hope of Town still making the play-offs, the Grimsby Telegraph continues to mention the possibility, although it does concede it is "unlikely". Even Shorty, in his post-match talk with John Tondeur, seemed reluctant to concede the game was up several matches ago, saying: "If we'd have won today, we'd have still been in with a chance." That sounds a bit like that old (probably apocryphal) quote from Barry Davies: "If it had gone in, it would have been a goal."
The reports and Mariners Player highlights indicate that it was a lively game with plenty of chances for both sides, with Frankie Artus and Andi Thanoj currently my two favourite Town players making important contributions.
Looking on Cod Almighty's contract tracker, I see that both of their contracts expire this summer but the club has an option to extend. I sincerely hope Town successfully exercise these options pretty damn quickly. However, following the reports last week that Coulson is to be offered worse terms, which will effectively leave him free to go, I'm not holding my breath.
I saw on Twitter a lot of good reports about the evening with Alan Buckley last Friday which was organised by the Mariners Trust. Well done to the trust for putting on what sounded like an informative and enjoyable event. A little cynical part of me wonders how many of those singing Buckley's praises now were calling for his resignation back in 2008.
Have you voted for your player of the year yet? I know that Liam Hearn will be a shoo-in but living in the constituency of the longest-serving Tory MP didn't stop me voting Labour, so this knowledge won't stop me voting for a different player. I like to think there is always an alternative.
I've mentioned before that in my household, watching Premier League teams on TV is mostly about rooting for who you dislike least. So you might imagine that I would have wanted Spurs to win yesterday's FA Cup semi-final. But other factors sometimes come into play. Tomorrow I will be visiting my dentist in London who happens to be a huge Spurs fan, as well as counting many current and former Spurs players among his patients. He has made fun of me for supporting Town for the last 20 years, the patronising tone increasing as Town have slid down the leagues. I did get some revenge with the League Cup victory in 2005, but it was a relatively small triumph.
After yesterday's result, though, I suspect this will be one visit when I won't have to hear anything at all about football while I'm trapped in the dentist's chair. Of course, I could always offer my dentist a new version of the Barry Davies quote: if you play for Chelsea and it hasn't gone in, it's a goal.
Friday 13 April
Tomorrow the Mariners play Wrexham, a match that your Manchester-based, Welsh Middle-Aged Diary always means to get to, but finds he can't, and tomorrow is no exception. I suspect if ever I did get to the Racecourse, I'd be depressed at the national stereotyping on display.
No-one seems to be taking too seriously our hopes of getting into the play-offs. Paul Hurst's argument that there should be an extra promotion place almost seems like an admission of defeat. Contracts are up for grabs; it's a chance to match ourselves up, see how far we have come, against the best proper team in the league. Blah blah... it's an end-of-season game, with Wrexham as good as condemned to the play-offs, and us as good as condemned to not being in them. If you go, keep the sheep jokes to a minimum, enjoy it for what it is, and if he is playing, enjoy the performance of Michael Coulson in particular, while you can.
Apparently Radio Humberside is reporting that Coulson has been offered a contract for next season on worse terms than the one that expires in May, which would leave him free to leave. It actually seems a bit strange he'd be covered under the provisions of the protection offered to clubs who foster young players, given that he is not a product of our own youth team, but there we go. Let's hold our breaths that I'Anson and Thanoj are being offered the terms that ensure they remain our future.
Thursday 12 April
Here's one for the teenagers: if Shouty is the Ron Nasty and Shorty the quirky Dirk McQuickly, Dave Moore is very much the Barry Wom of the Blundell backroom. Hey, it's Thursday, it's Deviant Diary with home thoughts from a broad range of archaic anarchic memories. And a DVD collection. Hmm, does that make our local fridge magnate the Leggy Mountbatten of the Main Stand? Teenagers in 1978, of course.
With another season dribbling away like a toddler with an ice pop, we're left with that traditional crie de guerre from management regarding imminently terminating employment contracts. Thus the feral fulminator of the Fentydome, Shouty the snippy snapper, snarls and spits out a warning/challenge to a whole list of perfectly adequate players. Apart from Kenny Teapot, of course. He's a shoo-in for a boot-out. It really is not now for Arthur.
Listen lads, we can still do this!
What, you think Town can still escape to victory? Release that straw! Those of a desperate bent still searching for highways and byways to play-off salvation can cross off route one. Those serial insolvents at the gaping chasm of doom will last just long enough to complete the season. But a double relegation is a-comin' their way, if they even survive 'til quarter to five on 2 May. Thus shall Town's serial failure to deal with the Quackers continue to be the forever swinging sword of Darlocles over North East Lincolnshire. Our rivals for just missing the play-offs won't lose any points, and our world shall slowly revolve like a roasting hog.
Set the controls for the heart of the Scun! With another diary dribbling away like a dog with a sausage, we're left with the traditional festering crie de brie of the pre-season Lincolnshire Cup semi-final. We have a date with Knill's nibblers: Tuesday 24 July 2012.
One day someone will dig up the centre circle: John Tondeur is innocent!
Wednesday 11 April
If someone of senior authority asked me about my day job and I didn't like what they were implying, I would at least think I have the calmness, diligence and professionalism to deal with the situation appropriately and not have a childish hissy fit and instruct those who make daily assessments of my ability to ask only nice questions from the back of a room.
You see, to your West Yorkshire Diary, Shouty's inability to deal with a straightforward question asked by an experienced and highly respected local football reporter not only demonstrated his immaturity but also his complete lack of understanding when it comes to media relations. I'm sure he would be delighted if he never had to give interviews to John Tondeur or the embarrassingly pally Telewag again, but a club that doesn't speak to the media is a club that regresses and alienates itself from the very people that pay their wages.
Just when someone from the club needed to grow a pair of balls and put Shouty in his place (reminding him that giving interviews to the media is part of his job in order to keep fans informed), they decided, in a rather cowardly way instead, to shove three people to the back of a room and explain it as a 'change in press conference arrangements'. No details have yet been revealed as to how this new arrangement will improve communication channels, surprisingly.
Perhaps BBC Radio Humberside could inform Rob 'don't ask me then' Scott that if he doesn't fackin' like it then don't fackin' come. Send Shorty instead. If the club aren't going to give sensible post-match interviews then the station can devote more of their time to Scunny and Hull. I wouldn't blame them, because, right now, Scunny and Hull are more successful clubs than Grimsby Town on every single level. Let's not pretend we're big time. We're a Conference club run by dummy spitters holding shotguns aimed at our feet.
It's interesting to note however, that following the comprehensive victory over Gateshead on Easter Monday, Shouty was more than happy to speak to the Grimmo Telegraph, declaring himself "delighted" with the performance. If the newspaper's opening question was anything other than: 'So then Rob, mate, good victory today you must be pleased?' then I'd be amazed.
Rather than ask Shaun Pearson why the players' form dipped at just the wrong time, the Telegraph chose instead to focus on his "set piece satisfaction" from the weekend and insist that The Great Play-Off Quest of 2012 is still on. To be fair to Riby Square's crack team of investigative journalists, Pearson's recent form is worth talking about. He had a slow start to his Mariners career but he's grown steadily and looks to have secured his place in the back four alongside Ian Miller. It's tough on Scott Garner and Charlie I'Anson, who haven't done a whole lot wrong this season.
Time to consider centre midfield has anyone else noticed how few goals we score from this position? Don't get me wrong, this area of the team has improved vastly from last season, but between Disley, Church, Thanoj, Artus, Panther and Wood, the return of goals has been curiously low. Perhaps it's down to the way we play? I don't have the answer, but I know a man who does. It's just that he won't like being asked and he'd probably swear at me and instruct the club to put me in the naughty corner.
Tuesday 10 April
After that tremendous turn of form in the middle third of the season, Town have failed several times to win in their many recent games. And with every failure to take three points there's been a general sigh of resignation across North East Lincolnshire, a psychological settling back into the armchair, and a stoical fixing of the gaze on the horizon, where some are seeing a new dawn in a 2012-13 promotion challenge. Over the last month or so, if you listen to the general mutter of opinion around Blundell Park, Town's season seems to have ended on at least four separate occasions. It's a shame, really. The players showed against Gateshead that they could still play, and for all those failures to beat Tamworth and Darlington they're only five points off the play-offs. Not that it's a realistic possibility now, of course. But your original/regular Diary can't help thinking things might have turned out differently if the players hadn't believed all that bollocks about the season being over with 20-odd points still to play for.
Monday 9 April
Miss Guest Diary writes: Murphy's Law states that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Hence, we've had rain in Lincoln every day since the hosepipe ban came in; and FourFourTwo magazine has published an article comparing Town's goalscoring prowess to Real Madrid and Barcelona when we're in a run of poor form, with only one win in six and five goals scored.
Nothing I have heard about Saturday's game indicates that this has changed for the better. In both his post-match interview with John Tondeur and today in the Telegraph, Shorty expressed his disappointment at Town's performance and questioned how much the game had meant to the players. He gave credit to only two players from the starting eleven, though didn't name them.
Both Disley and Miller were missing from the side on Saturday through illness which, no matter what Shorty might say about everyone being a good footballer, must have weakened the team. The Telegraph reports that Disley will be back for today's game against Gateshead, but Miller is still "doubtful". It is also suggested that Duffy will return to the bench in favour of Elding. What still no Hughes-Mason?
The Mariners Trust has advised that all the tickets have now sold out for the evening with Alan Buckley coming up this Friday. There will, however, be a DVD available shortly from its website. The trust is also urging fans to support the golf day being held by the club on 15 June to raise funds for the young player development programme.
Regular readers will know that I favour Twitter as a source of Town news and views, but I was really irritated with it at the weekend when the #gtfc feed was inundated with jolly Grantham Town supporters celebrating a victory. Yes, I'm very happy for them winning their league but don't they know #gtfc is ours we outrank them. I was going to suggest a campaign to move Town fans onto #mariners until I discovered that belongs to some baseball team in the US. Doh!
Friday 6 April
Mardy Diary writes: Well, with Town still inexplicably six points away from fifth place despite their stuttering recent form, there is still an outside chance of the play-offs. That said, it will take a remarkable run of results for Town, along with a few slip-ups by teams around us if we're to squeeze in at the last minute.
However while I hate to give up hope until it's all mathematically over, I can't help that sense of foreboding whenever managers begin to talk of "expecting a tough match" against a team that hasn't won in 15 matches. I know Hurst is just playing it safe when he says that, but given our recent return to the sort of performances that saw us struggle at the beginning of the season and the fact that it's Darlington, Bloody Darlington, I find myself starting to look ahead to the European Championships already.
I'm clearly not alone as a scan across the news and messageboards certainly draws nothing of note regarding Town, and it seems to me that there's already an end of term feel about this season. Or is that just me with my last minute, half-arsed diary? Ah, right...
Here's to six points over the Easter weekend anyway. Seeya.
Thursday 5 April
The purdah continues! John Fenty (Toptown) has not spoken. Well done you. Your dilettante Deviant Diary salutes the maturing cheese. If there's nothing to say, then don't say it.
But where would a Diary be without nothing to say? As thoughts turn to summer frills and frocks, there are still some who believe that the Ayatollah tells a darn good knock-knock joke. Windy Miller can be caught uttering professional platitudes by the half-dozen, to order, just to keep himself awake. Still 15 points to play for, yakkety-yak. Don't look back in anger, I heard you say. There's always next season.
There's nothing for you here. This used to be a decent town with a local shop. Now it's full to the rafters with laughter. On the cutting edge of commercial logic, the club shop has finally gotten around to jumping on a long-passed bandwagon. It's selling Hearn T-shirts, just before his inevitable sale to Barry Fry's Fennish delight. Oh me-o, oh my-o, the crassness makes me cry-o. That's an #eldingfact, not an Elding T-shirt.
The mystery of the missing Makofo has been solved. Or has it? The SNOSฎ attempts to divert suspicion by posting pictures of peripheral dandies with kids. The man in the hat, they say it's Serge but where's the smile? Good to know that Town players are still being forced to do the school run, like in them olden days of beige and mud. Wonderful wistful memories of way back when float by my Deviant mind Booby Mitchell telling me off for scoring a goal "the wrong way". He wore a moustache, you know.
Without any tales of the unexceptional and forgotten, the local paper for local people is reduced, unlike the Mooreman himself, to an insubstantial space filler about sport science. Dave speaks thusly: yeah, amazing, it wasn't as good in the past. Wow, Ryan Giggs! My toast's burning, bye. It's as illuminating as Alan Shearer in a jam jar, but not as crowd-pleasing...
Tinpot despots beware! The latest health scare is that, on average, tall women are in danger of being taller than small men. The Daily Mail
is quivering, perhaps having heard the latest 19th-century cure for female hysteria. Remember, manually means once a year.
The past really is a different country.
Wednesday 4 April
I don't strictly believe in hoodoos, voodoos or anything beyond our control or understanding, and choose instead to believe that shit just happens. So for your West Yorkshire Diary to suggest that the wheels came off Town's play-off push because Shorty and Shouty won the Conference's Manager(s) of the Month award for January would be a tad hypocritical.
This month's accolade goes to Fleetwood's Micky Mellon, but I'd like to take a guess that the supernatural baggage that supposedly comes with winning the award won't derail the Cod Army's surge to the league title while accruing well over a hundred points.
Meanwhile, meandering in mid-table after a marathon March, are the mighty Mariners. We had a go. In October the season threatened to be a write-off. But we dug deep and gave ourselves an outside chance of a one-in-four chance of returning to the Football League. Our undoing, clearly, has been opposition that are just better than us. Of course, there's no disgrace in that. It's a bit of a kick in the balls to keep losing vital games in injury time though (old habits die hard, eh?) but hey ho, life goes on. It's only a game, and all that.
Not since the days of Steve Mildenhall have the Town fans had a keeper they find hard to berate. James McKeown, our current number one, has had a good season between the sticks and has told the Telegraph that he's pleased with his progress. At just 22 years old, Jamie Mac has a bright future ahead of him especially if he's keeping out a goalkeeper 11 years his senior. You'd think the atmosphere between McKeown and Kenny 'KA Goalkeeping' Arthur would be frosty, but you'd be wrong. They have Hyacinth Bucket-style candlelit dinners together and everything.
It's a bit of an odd Wednesday in that it's the first time in a while that there hasn't been a Tuesday night match. So, with no report and no petulant retorts from Rob fackin' Scott and it being a particularly slow news day I hope you don't mind if I scarper. Just a quick line to remind people that England's under-19 women will be taking on their Austrian counterparts at Blundell Park tomorrow in a 2pm kick-off (admission ฃ3), and that there's still a chance to play in the Major Stakeholder's Challenge match if you don't mind being the Kiernan Hughes-Mason of the team (but they're still looking for two keepers). Toodles!
Tuesday 3 April
What does the phrase "a Buckley-style finish" mean to you, dear reader? Steve Burr manages a team from the west midlands, so when he says it, he means the sort of goal Alan Buckley used to score in his playing days as a prolific centre-forward for Walsall and Birmingham City. Your original/regular Diary, on the other hand, supports Grimsby Town, so when someone says "a Buckley-style finish" I tend to assume that a foolish chairman is making an ill-considered managerial sacking, undoing years of good work at his club and plunging it into years more of chaos and collapse.
The England under-19 team will face Austria this week in a European Championship qualifier at Blundell Park. The match kicks off at 2pm on Thursday, which probably excludes most people in paid employment, and will be contested by two teams of women, which probably excludes any misogynistic management staff in the vicinity.
And lastly today, GTFC and the Grimsby Telegraph are continuing their radical plan to build a youth team by watching young footballers in the local area and deciding which ones are best. "It's a great way for people in the local community to try to make a way in the game," says the Shorty manager about the Trawling the Town initiative. "Fans have a connection with a player that's grown up in the area." Word reaches the Diary that Shorty and Shouty will next week announce a similarly revolutionary scheme to try and win games by selecting their best players.
Monday 2 April
Miss Guest Diary writes: Well, is that it then? Even the optimists among the fans seem to have declared this season's play-off dream well and truly over following the dismal defeat on Saturday.
Shouty mumbled that he was "not going to say it's done and dusted", but his disappointment at the result was apparent in the interview he gave to John Tondeur. But that doesn't excuse this exchange:
JT: Do you think they were the better side?
RS: Don't know, did you?
JT: Yes I did, actually.
RS: Don't ask me then.
I am going to call him Snippy from now on. I don't know what that would make his sidekick. Snappy? Chippy? Drippy? Maybe we could find something suitable in this list of potential names which Walt Disney came up with for Snow White's seven dwarves.
I don't often comment on team selection or tactics because, having never played football, I feel I have no credentials as a pundit. But people around me in the Pontoon were saying the same: why wasn't Andi Thanoj playing in midfield? That would have allowed Frankie Artus to start on the wing, arguably his better position, instead of Peter Winn, who brought very little to the party. I would like to see Town dispense with the short-term loanees and give our own players a chance to show what they can do. And give Kiernan Hughes-Mason a start surely he deserves it.
It's been a few years since Town could coast through the final month of the season because we're going nowhere. (I don't count last year because we had the new management to assess.) When the points in a game don't mean anything, I resort to looking for other reasons to care about the result. When watching Match of the Day, because I don't really care about any of the teams, I root for one or another because I do or don't like their manager; or they have a player I admire or despise; or one side's fans are really irritating (yes, I do mean Newcastle). Of course, I'll be rooting for Norwich from now on. I don't know about you, but I felt very excited seeing Our Ryan Bennett on MOTD.
So what are the non-points reasons for caring about Town's run in to the end of the season? Well, there's that old Darlington hoodoo to break. We need to do that this season as, the way things have been going financially, it could be their last. And I wouldn't mind us losing to Wrexham if it meant they could overtake that snidey lot at Fleetwood and win the league. Am I unusual in looking at games this way?
And finally, news comes that Luton have sacked their manager. I flagged up last week that there were calls for his head after they failed to beat Town, so I think we should definitely claim another victim for the Grimsby Reaper. I dare say our managers will be hoping it doesn't give Town top cat John Fenty any ideas.